HK TV Series Worth Watching

This is the Hong Kong list, as promised in the other post.  This will be longer, mostly because I started watching HK ones first. And I also started this two years ago but didn’t launch it until now.

Ancient:

A Tough Side of a Lady – Mulan story going haywire. YET consider it a comedy and enjoy it for its humor. Wong Hei and Marianne Chan made such a cute couple in here.

Better Halves – A fun, light-hearted (for the most part, lol) drama. Nice collaboration between Steven and Maggie.

Destined to Rebel – Ignore the history and you’ll enjoy this since the cast’s really nice to watch. Tragic ending yet it wasn’t too lame.

Heroic Legend of the Yang Family – I don’t remember much anymore, but it was indeed a grand production that was worth it.

In the Realms of Joy – Many people might not even remember or care about this but I thought it was one of those best comedies because they managed to include major and minor characters into the plot. I hate it when they kept focusing on one or two persons SO it would get boring so fast.

King Maker – Was surprised. There were times that it veered off the road, BUT I guess compared to some recent ones, had to say it was good enough.

Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion – This was an adaptation of Huang Yi’s novel, which had gone haywire somewhat because of the alterations in characters and plot in general. Nothing new because adaptations could never match that of the original author’s intention and it often had to do with the capability to do it or not. But regarding characters, I think they did it on purpose with making some people ‘too good’ so as not to damage some reputations. (PUH-LEASE.) I wasn’t so against the cast though I had my doubts regarding some people. YET I watched anyway since I just love those ancient series and how it was wuxia too. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

Mystery of the Parchment – Some stuff didn’t make sense. Yet it was one of those if you don’t pay attention as much, you end up enjoying it for its ancient setting.

Road for the Heroes – Half comedy and half-serious. But it still retained some of the ancient feelings that didn’t make it corny at all.

Road to Eternity – This was surprisingly good without ruining it too much. This has a lot of Buddhism in it (obviously) and Zen stuff.

Safe Guards – What can I say? I’m a sucker for the Steven and Wayne team.

Square Pegs – The ending sort of killed it. Yet I guess it couldn’t be any other way. But it was too frustrating. Still worth the time with some parts though.

Swordsman Lai Bo Yee – It was quite draggy at one point too. But the overall was pretty good for an ancient one.

Ten Tigers of Guangdong – Major production from ATV. Can’t say there weren’t frustrated moments. But it was somewhat worth it with those series back then.

The Buddha Jin – One of the earlier adaptations of Ji Gong that was worth it.

The Commandments – I used to hate it when I was little since I didn’t get why people were so gossipy, etc. YET I learned to love this little comedy later on for its intention.

The Duke of Mount Deer 1984 – Interestingly, it was the version that got all the chronological orders right with how the main dude met all the girls/women in his life. Though the personalities and plot elements had gotten lost for some people. (YES, I’m technical so sue me.) There was also the start of the whole ‘Andy and Tony’ team that had grabbed the audience over the years when they reunite in another movie/series. Oh yeah, Elaine Chow Siu Lan actually got a role worth mentioning in that one.

The Gentle Crackdown II – One of the rare times that the sequel was better than the 1st part. Maybe because some parts made a lot more sense.

The Great General – The sequel of “Heroic Legend of the Yang Family”. Wasn’t super perfect, but was really interesting for the most part, not to mention excellent acting from the majority of the cast.

The Greatness of a Hero – One of the rare surprises of recent years.

The Hunter’s Prey – Despite the ending that left some of us felt like we were choking but the overall plot wasn’t bad. Eddie Cheung got sacrificed as usual but what else was new? (YET people still dare to say that he just got sacrificed recently just to boost some younger faces. YEAH RIGHT, he got sacrificed a longgggggg time ago. STOP making it into some stupid fan war to bash the new generation.)

The Legend of the Condor Heroes 1982 – Actually a big and long production that was worth it? The plot got shuffled around a bit but I guess the overall wasn’t too bad. (Don’t convince me how phenomenon it was or how “classic” it was, I watched it! Like more than 10 times too. AND then read the book right afterward so I know what the hell got shuffled and sacrificed. Despite being a grand production, it wasn’t that accurate either. IF you have the resource, at least DO IT RIGHT.)

The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung 1984 – Despite the fact that it distorted sooooooo much from Gu Long’s novels, except for some parts, it was pretty good if look as a totally different series. (AND don’t even get me started on how they tarnished Gu Long’s vision of the actual story, the point got missed major time but turned into a popular route instead, which was a super shame BECAUSE those who watched this first will never appreciate the more accurate adaptations of the later years. OR should I say the ones that came before as well?)

The New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre 1986 – Let’s just say, the first part of the parents’ generation was much more interesting than the rest. YET it was okay overall. You just watch for the cast ’cause if you really think about it, it was kind of frustrating at times. Not to mention it had distorted some parts and characters.

The Return of the Condor Heroes 1983 – OMG, it was more accurate to the novel than the first part. That was what made it even better to watch. (NOT saying it was better than part 1 here because technically this is just part of the trilogy, just saying it was more accurate hence making it even more enjoyable on its own.)

The Slicing of the Demon – Another surprise in recent years. Maybe because it didn’t go the typical, formulaic route with playing safe and all.

The Smiling, Proud Wanderer 1984 – OMG, this was awesome from the music to the acting, etc. Honestly, CYF was awesome as LHC. The story got shuffled around, some characters were tone down to be more endurable YET they sacrificed others to make a certain character looked better. But like that was news. The overall was good if you skip around more. Then I just did a re-watch of recent and I found the ending unendurable. I swear, NOT picking on this BUT XAJH is technically my favorite (after DOMD) BUT TVB killed the ending. (YES, it was so dragging with them trying to make heroes out of the lamest characters.) It’s sooo sad that they never do a correct adaptation for this one OR the casting is so off. I don’t know if there will ever be one that actually does the novel justice, BUT even this version didn’t satisfy me. Despite awesome acting with some people. AND oh yeah, the song that became the drive for LCH’s journey was practically forgotten halfway through already. OR maybe a third way through. What the hell was that? Then I pulled myself together and reminded myself that at least it focused on jianghu related stuff more than on the soaps side (cough cough). Not to mention they didn’t cut out some of my favorite characters just to make room for some characters that only got 2-minute fame in the actual novel.

The Two Most Honorable Knights 1988 – Umm…the cast made it good. I don’t know. There wasn’t much to go on because they butchered the plot. Once again, Gu Long got robbed but what else was new, right? I hated the whole ‘merge in characters’ for some people. I heard the ’70s version was more accurate but I can’t be sure since I didn’t watch that yet. And there was also the whole thing with me not finishing the novel yet.

Vampire Expert II – Those traditional vampire capturing stories. Great stories of various sorts, but also included some comedies as well.

Where The Legend Begins – Only some people made it good. Yet it was an interesting take from the other side of the whole ‘three kingdoms’ stories.

Pre-Modern:

Au Revoir Shanghai – NOT because I liked most of the cast involved. That helped. But I thought it was well thought out. In fact, most Shanghai related series are good. I said ‘MOST’, NOT ‘all’.

Coincidentally – The first series that Frankie and Annie paired up together–despite the fact that they’ve been in several series together already.

Fist of Fury – It was awesome! One of those ATV classics.

Good Against Evil – I loved it. Not only because of Deric but how the plot seemed to have a mixture of mystery, comedy. etc.

Phoenix Rising – I was surprised to really enjoy this. A lot of gray areas come into play. And sometimes you really wonder if you should take some people’s words for it. Some were obvious, but others were hard to figure.

The Charm Beneath – One of those surprisingly good ones. Regardless of the cast. Or if the plot might be frustrating at times.

The Legend of Dragon Pearl – OMG, I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. The comedy was mad and random, but it was really charming because of everyone’s acting. OR more like most people’s acting.

The Price of Greed – Despite some poor acting in place, the plot was really good. It had really carried out some chilling effects with all the plots and schemes.

The W Files – Sci-fi/detective/crime-solving one. Pretty cool actually since it addressed a mixture of cases that had to do with the phenomenon side.

Thou Shalt Not Cheat – OMG, it was a riot! Despite some frustrations here and there, the series was good overall. The comedy wasn’t too over either.

Modern:

A Great Way to Care – Ignore the somewhat lame title since it was overlooked somewhat because of that. I didn’t regret diving in though I had my initial doubts.

Black Heart, White Soul – Need I say more? It’s been a while since I enjoyed something so this one had to be placed in after I was done with the series.

Catch Me Now – One of the surprisingly good ones. YET the ending sort of killed it. But I guess it wasn’t the worst of them all when it was trying to kill the main character.

CIB Files – The only series ever that I could like Bowie Lam. (Don’t know why, just that he always seems to be intimidating regardless.) It was creative in the way it was shot at the beginning and led us into the story. The office dramas were reflected throughout and it was fun to see. Though the Wong Hei and Maggie Siu pairing was kind of odd but wasn’t the worst and was still cute in a way.

Cross Border Daddy – Inspirational one. NOT perfect since there were quite a few parts that could do without. Yet it turned out fine.

D.I.E. – The first one was enough. There were mixes of madness among other things since most characters were quite weird. Yet some of the foundations got ruined in the later parts, especially near the ending. But it was decent overall.

Family Man – I lost count on how many times I watched this already. Quite meaningful though not flawless. A good mixture of comedy and romance.

Forensic Heroes I & II – YES, I listed 2 as well because I still liked it despite it sacrificing some characters. The cases were all right.

Forensic Heroes III – MOST people were against it because of its link to the previous installments but it was really decent for a standalone series. There were glitches within the plot (like most TVB series) but it was NOT that terrible like some claimed.

Hearts of Fencing – A light-hearted, youth drama. Many might not care for it. But I thought it was worth watching if you want to reminisce about the old school days. AND for the first time, the ages of the students weren’t off since they used some fresh faces (at the time) to fit the roles.

Just Love II – It honestly was better than part 1 for some reason. Since the foundation was better with some clarifications. And perhaps I rather deal with Johnson’s Mr. 13 than some annoying ‘father-in-law’.

Last One Standing – Quite intense and mind games were involved. The deception and conspiracies from both sides were quite nerve-wracking at times. Yet worth it.

Life Art – Many will disagree since it seemed so average. Yet I felt it was one of those light-hearted ones. There were dramatic moments that the characters went through. But overall, it was really genuine.

Master of Play – Psychological theme, and other dark themes. Add in some more art. NOT everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one of those that forces one to think about life in general and the choices people make (and much more).

My Date With A Vampire I, II, & III – YES, I’m the rare one who liked all three. Though there were parts that could do without and there were frustrations, I think I valued it for the story, the acting, and interesting interpretations at times. (LOL!)

Not Just A Pretty Face – Hilarious!

Odd Man Out – MOST people probably didn’t remember this or might not know of its existence. It was one of those nonsense comedies but didn’t go into the ‘lame’ boundary.

One Step Beyond – It was mad random and bordering on nonsensical at times. But it managed to capture some of the unpredictable at times.

Placebo Cure – I was surprised since I didn’t think much of it when it came out. But I checked it out anyway later.

Project Ji Xiang – I’m a sucker for those ghost-related ones. Not to mention it was a decent one overall with the plot NOT moving too fast or too slowly.

Reincarnated II – Didn’t watch the other version, and didn’t read the novel either, but enjoyed the series overall.

Seed of Hope – Loved it, very meaningful and not too much. Though I hated some of the ending stuff that happened to Kenix’s character, I tried to just erase that part for its traumatic effects. Patrick and Kenix also made an interesting pairing.

Shade Of Darkness – Ghost revenge type of series. Surprisingly interesting.

Speech of Silence – Another surprise.

Steps (aka The Whole City Is Dancing) – Steven & Bernice. AND Wayne. NOT the best since the ending sort of killed it. But decent overall.

The Brink of Law – Quite exciting and actually unpredictable at various points.

The Ghostbusters Gang – It was mixed with comedy and ghost-related stuff. But really nice to watch the cast battle it out at times.

The Hero From Shanghai – Good Gallen and Maggie collaboration. Didn’t realize they had so much chemistry and were quite cute together. There were also nice fighting scenes, lol.

The King of Yesterday and Tomorrow – Fun, time travel drama. Loved the cast and acting.

Tiger Cubs – Short and simple. The end.

When Heaven Burns – A major surprise for me. Many things I already mentioned in the review since I actually did a long one for the series, but it honestly was worth it. Some might not like it because of the ‘slow’ pace but I didn’t think it was slow at all. Sure, there were times that I got impatient but I was worried the ending would get ruined. But the details were essential for later parts.

Who Is The Killer – Old, but good overall.

Sitcoms:

Be My Guest – It was sooo long ago, but I remember loving it.

Off Peddar – Despite the fact that the ending ruined it, it was pretty good overall.

Welcome to the House – Some of the cast annoyed the world out of me, but the rest made up for it. And besides, it was mostly a senseless comedy so I didn’t really mind.

NOTE: This list will be updated from time to time. Also, the list is by alpha order AND not by significance. And this will also be included in the “Helpful + Fun Posts” in case anyone’s interested.

Advertisements

Phoenix Rising

As I said before in my other reviews, TVB seriously makes better Shanghai period series than those of the ancient or modern ones. This one was no exception since it was very well crafted and complex in many areas. The relationship between the three sisters and their fates really made it tragic and touching in a way.

Bad idea that I read the spoilers once again, but still it was a good series although I must say it somewhat dragged at some parts and could be quite repetitive. Let’s just say I didn’t take the ending as well as how I did for The Brink of Law since both major characters died in each of the series. But for the other one, it could be justified and actually made sense. But this one, it’s like one last step and then So Fei had to die just like that. It was unreasonable and made it all so frustrating. Yes, I know that was the turning point that Lai Nga had to finally end it all, but it was so unnecessary to make it tragic on purpose.

Other than that, ‘Like’ factors included:

  • Kristal Tin as Kong Lai Nga: Lai Nga was a very protective and caring sister toward her younger siblings. She was nice and kind in her own way. But she failed to understand and draw the line between right and wrong thus causing many problems to evolve later in the story. However, I’m glad that she actually acknowledged that in the very end instead of just blaming her sister for it (although Pui Woo actually did the killing) but because Lai Nga failed to stop Pui Woo and kept using herself as shield to let Pui Woo keep doing it or wishing that Pui Woo would change, etc. Can’t blame her since she was just knowing how to protect her sibling and maintain a strong bond. However, I thought some things didn’t have to drag out so much. Sometimes she was very rash and liked to do it without thinking, such as the scene where she was already rescued but she kept wanting to go see the wedding, etc–causing more troubles. It is called an accident and clumsiness the first time, but what about the second time at the church? She was discovered by Eileen’s character and almost create more problems (which she did in the end but for a different reason). I think as an overall, Kristal was very good and convincing in it since she brought out all the character’s personalities very well, convincing us that she was a weakling (unlike her other strong characters) and only knew to care for others, etc.
  • Leila Tong as So Fei: I really, really, really like Leila’s character So Fei in here and probably also the reason why I hate it so much when they killed So Fei off–even if it was to make Lai Nga see that Pui Woo never changed at all. She was very intelligent and could see through all of Pui Woo’s acts and her deceiving words. She did break the law later in trying to save Lai Nga, but I thought she was a very good sibling considering how she suffered her future for her sister and tried to do her best in saving her. She was very selfless in her actions and never back down even if she was threatened with death. She might not agree with Lai Nga’s actions sometimes but she did listen to her. I must say Leila was really good in here. This was one of the greater roles for her but too bad it ended quite tragically. She was so good that I really did cry during So Fei’s last struggle to survive by trying to escape from the box. Too bad she didn’t succeed but she did leave clues behind for Lai Nga. It was very sad seeing that last scene played out.
  • The sisterly bond between Lai Nga and So Fei: No need to say too much but it was proven many times that they will do anything for each other and maintain such a good relationship despite any obstacles or misunderstandings. They always stay true to each other and trust each other throughout. It was probably also the reason why it led Lai Nga to have such strength to finally avenge So Fei’s death in the end.
  • Sunny and Kristal’s chemistry as a tragic couple: Although it was so frustrating at times because of how reluctant he was to let go of his status and future, it was somewhat understandable. Although lack of screen time but Sunny still managed to carry out his character quite well. He and Kristal made quite a good couple also.
  • Jack Wu as Ma Hak: Although he was a bit dumb sometimes, he was very kind and determined to help So Fei whenever she needed him to. He was also very patient and fast-thinking that he complemented So Fei’s stubborn personality quite well. I guess can’t really blame him with how things turned out in the end. It was just a shame that he never knew that So Fei really did want to go with him and was delayed because she was killed. Haven’t seen Jack Wu for a while and it was funny to see him not pairing off with Nancy. But it was all right seeing him in here as a major contribution with the plot and various conspiracies.
  • Nancy Wu as Yip Chi Shan: I couldn’t believe that her character died in here again but another wonderful performance. I really like her in recent series more than her past ones for some reason. She seemed to take it up to another level unlike her passive expression like before. Her character seems to have more depth also–even if she doesn’t get to appear much. Chi Shan’s death was probably another tear-jerker aside from So Fei’s death at the end. It was very surprising and brief since I thought she would live after so many things happening and how she overcame the loss of her husband and lived for her child.
  • Law Lok Lam’s appearance although lack of screen time: He was very kind and bright in here but too bad he had such an ending. It didn’t say if his character lived or die in the end (but I’m guessing he’s still in a coma). However, I’m glad to see his contribution was something more than just appearing as Ben Wong’s father in here. It was probably the turning point for everything and a final break when Pui Woo decided to bring him down and also an opportunity for a trap as well.
  • Excellent cast as an overall: Even if Sunny Chan didn’t have as much screen time because it appeared to be mostly an all women series, I still thought it did quite well with picking out the cast with the exception of one–Louisa So. Although Louisa’s character, Pui Woo, was very hateful, I failed to be convinced of her acting. It seemed like she was picked for her beauty instead of her acting skills since there were other casts who could be better in that role. I hated her character through her actions but didn’t really care much after watching it. It was like it was not enough. Some of the minor characters in here did better than that. And maybe because of that, I failed to feel sorry for all the psychological and/or traumatizing events she went through during her childhood or how she had become. It was like never clear what she was doing. She can paste on an “evil” look but at minimum and could only do so much. If it was someone else, I would have felt a tad pity for Pui Woo and why she had become such a person.

Other than that, I think it was good overall. It probably would land behind The Charm Beneath, Au Revoir Shanghai, and The Price of Greed even since like I said before, it tried to be too tragic with the ending. I know it’s not supposed to be all happy near the end–because none of the other ones were (except for The Charm Beneath) but it didn’t have to be all out with deaths. Just made things so repetitive.

Since I said earlier about an excellent cast, I must say also that this is one of the most under-rated series of TVB since it seems people just ignore this type of series since they fail to see some cast that they recognize or like. But this is like The Price of Greed (a series that is good) but got ignored. People should definitely give this a chance.

Posted: December 25, 2008

Re-posted: Sunday, March 21st, 2010